How can we help you?
University Center of Support and Personal Development, a new unit of the university is now facing the needs of the whole academic community. – We are here for everyone who wants to gain knowledge about themselves, wants to develop in various areas or needs comprehensive support – explains Dr Małgorzata Fopka-Kowalczyk, the Center director.
University Center of Support and Personal Development has been functioning since January under the management of Dr Małgorzata Fopka-Kowalczyk, a psychologist, psycho-oncologist and a pedagogist of the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences of NCU. The aim which was being executed in the very early stages was expanding the offer of psychological and psychiatric support to NCU students, doctoral students and implementation academic staff in need of this support. This, however, is not and has never been the only aim of the Center – its mission is much broader and multi-dimensional.
The Center is a response to various problems reported by the academic staff, students and doctoral students. Its activity is compatible with the system of the implementation of education quality, also known as System of Academic Excellence – explains Dr Fopka-Kowalczyk. – I do hope that our work will contribute to the process of formation of the quality culture, good atmosphere and satisfaction among the members of our academic community.
The Director emphasizes that the Center is to be a place to turn to by students, doctoral students and staff of various occupational groups who will believe that they will be listened to and given support they need.
Friendly University, Excellent University
- University must be most of all functional and effective – but let us not forget that it must also be friendly – says professor Beata Przyborowska, Vice rector for Student's Affairs, who substantively supervises the Center. Now, there is a chance to make it real in a wider range. University must be friendly for students, doctoral students and the staff of all layers so that everyone can fulfill themselves.
University Center of Support and Personal Development is to help in this matter. The idea about this unit came out a few years ago. Its emergence is a natural effect of other steps undertaken before to make NCU not only a friendly place, but most of all to take care of the comprehensively understood quality at the university.
As far back as nine years ago, when we were beginning our work on the new system of quality of education, we were exchanging our opinions on what university we want to have, and what the university needs to become a place where we would like to work, and where students would like to study – says professor Arkadiusz Karwacki from the faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences, who has been involved since the very beginning in creating the concept and finding the Center. Our original system of quality support which we were beginning to construct has become its substantial element.
Liability for pro-quality actions has been defined, and in order to learn about the opinion of the academic community, appropriate measuring tools and procedures, have been created. The process of collecting data with the application of poll questionaries on class and tutorials satisfactions has been initiated. A lot of meetings with students and academic staff have been conducted. On the basis of opinions and assessments collected, a lot of alterations have already been introduced into the functioning of the university both on its central level and its particular units.
Since the very beginning, the system of quality has been the element of a responsible University which listens to the voices of her representatives, whose voices are meaningful – adds professor Karwacki. – Due to the work of many people, we have managed to find out the problems of our community, to see the needs of students and staff, who are very often tired, burnt out and lost, and who encounter barriers in communication with their surroundings. As a reflectional organization, which is already able to diagnose problems and which already does it, University must now use her resources to meet the emotional, psychical and developmental needs of her community.
This is why we speak so much about the system of ensuring the quality, to show that the Center is not something that has been founded out of the blue. Its foundation was a natural step as it will respond to at least a part of the problems and needs we hear about, we know already, and which have already been recognized and diagnosed – says prof. Przyborowska. In this matter, we receive enormous support from the Rector – already in his election campaign, prof. Andrzej Sokala said that a university should be a good place for the whole community, Of course, investing in equipment and infrastructure is still important, but investing in people is also as important.
The Center has set off and keeps speeding up
University Center of Support and Personal Development has been functioning since the beginning of the year. As the first one was set up the psychological room, located at 17 Saint Joseph Street in the University Sports Center, the main headquarters of the Center. Support to individual people is provide by psychologists and psychiatrists.
The interest in this form of help shows that the members of our community are struggling with various problems, both in the emotional sphere as well as dealing with stress. Not all are painlessly going through pandemic captivity which has been going on for over a year – explains Dr Fopka-Kowalczyk. – Yet, we do not focus only on psychological and psychiatric support. Intervention is only one of our multiple activities. We would also like to offer a wide range of trainings, workshops and interpersonal training for all who are interested in their personal growth.
Director Fopka-Kowalczyk emphasizes that what she cares about is flexibility – The Center is to meet the real needs of the community of NCU.
We want to build the Center based on partnership. Those who will turn to us will never be treated as just "customers". We want them to build this place with us. Therefore, the offer will be changing and developing. It will be in large extent based on the response to the reported needs – explains Dr Fopka-Kowalczyk.
We also receive support from Board of Experts and Center Scientific Board. The team consists of many specialists of such areas as: quality of life, health, health education and neuropsychology. Among the experts, there are also Rector's proxies and the academic spokesperson. The activities of the Center are also supported by the Team for Students with Disabilities, which is in charge of administrative work.
- The overview of the offer of university general lectures has given us the knowledge and awareness of how many specialists with multiple competencies we have at NCU, in, for instance, trainings on interpersonal communication or dealing with difficult situations. We want to use their potential – explains Dr Fopka-Kowalczyk.
The pandemic does not interfere with our aims
Obviously, due to the current pandemic situation, the Center is operating online at the moment. All necessary information about the Center and its current activities can be found on its website.
We are still working on short and interesting online meetings with people who will answer and show how to take care of oneself in the very best way in various aspects of life – encourages director Fopka-Kowalczyk.
We do care about the culture of meetings, not impersonal contacts. This is what we miss – to meet and to talk, to learn about the other person – says professor Karwacki. The Center will appeal for such a value. We will try to show in what direction we could be heading – as units, as members of particular groups and teams so that we do not get lost and we do not lose the other person.
The originators and creators of the Center notice that the launch of this unit is compatible with the current pandemic situation and responds to it well.
- The pandemic focuses in and highlights as in a lens all the problems we have encountered before – says professor Karwacki.
There also appear new problems – adds professor Przyborowska. – The research which I was conducting with professor Błajet show people often do not realize that something is malfunctioning, is not working and that they need help. And this is what the Center is for – we want as much as possible to prevent such problems, and if the need arises – we want to help to solve them.
- Once the pandemic ends, there will be an avalanche of emotional disorders and psychic diseases – since 2017, WHO has claimed that depression is the first leading disease of the world. At this moment, the Center will have already been operating full time, will have already gained experience, therefore we will be ready to new post-pandemic challenges – adds professor Karwacki.
With hope into the future
Currently, the team of the Center focus on educational and aid activities, but it has much wider plans.
-We will also meet the needs of our guests, foreign students and staff – they also must count on our support. In the future, we would like to open to institutions from beyond NCU and cooperate with them – says Dr Fopka-Kowalczyk. – We have huge plans, and I will emphasize once again: it depends on us what kind of Center we will build.